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Stagger plantings to extend fresh vegetables in garden

Fran O’Leary Pot of lettuce
POT OF LETTUCE: In late April or early May, I sew a whole packet of lettuce seed in a large flowerpot topped off with new potting soil. Three weeks later, I seed another packet in a second large pot.
Through the Garden Gate: Try this strategy with your favorite garden vegetables.

If you are trying to maximize the space you have in your garden and extend the time when you can enjoy fresh vegetables from your garden, consider staggered planting of some of your vegetables.

Staggered planting allows plants to be at a different point of maturity at any given time. This way, when one plant has exhausted its yield, another will be ready to take its place. Try staggering some of the following vegetables: lettuce, spinach, radishes, cucumbers, kohlrabi, broccoli, cabbages, beets, sweet corn, carrots, green beans, onions and peas.

Lots of lettuce

For example, I like growing lots of lettuce, and I grow my lettuce in large pots on my deck so I can save space in my garden for other vegetables. I also like that it is growing right next to my kitchen and I can grab a couple handfuls whenever I like.

In late April or early May, I sow a whole packet of lettuce seed in a large flowerpot topped off with new potting soil. It gets quite dense, but I get a lot of lettuce in a small space. I usually plant Black Seeded Simpson lettuce seed in the first pot. Three weeks later, I seed another packet of lettuce seed in a second large pot — usually one that includes four or five different varieties in the same packet. For a couple of weeks, I can keep both pots going, but eventually the older lettuce peters out. In mid-August, I seed a third packet of lettuce seed in a flowerpot. That is usually ready to harvest in late September and will provide plenty of lettuce for my husband and I to enjoy through the end of October.

I do the same thing with my kohlrabi. I plant half of them in early May and the rest at the end of May. That way we don’t have to eat them all at once, and we can extend the time we have fresh kohlrabi.

People who sell sweet corn at a roadside stand or farmers market are familiar with this process. They usually plant sweet corn every four or five days so they have a continuous supply for four to eight weeks. My mom used to plant green beans and yellow beans in early May and then three weeks later, she would plant more beans to ensure she never ran out.

Be sure you stock up on lettuce seed, or whatever crops you are staggering, in spring when you can buy seed at local garden centers, hardware stores or grocery stores.

Come back next week when we’ll learn some tips for gardening during a drought.

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